The best middle grade stories for adventure lovers

C. Lee McKenzie Author Of Sign of the Green Dragon
By C. Lee McKenzie

Who am I?

I’ve been hooked on adventure stories since I started reading. When I became serious about writing for young readers, I couldn’t resist creating fearless kids out to tackle. Indiana Jones-sized dangers. While I love writing these kinds of stories, I can’t resist reading them either. If there’s an added element of magic or sci-fi time-travel, I have to find out what happens and how. The most fun is to read these stories aloud to the young readers in my family in hopes they’ll also fall in love with adventure/fantasy—maybe one of them will even write a few of these books. That would be fabulous.


I wrote...

Sign of the Green Dragon

By C. Lee McKenzie,

Book cover of Sign of the Green Dragon

What is my book about?

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

Sam’s the new kid at school with enough hitting talent to bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school. When his teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place, but an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into the top. Inside, a crumbling skeleton clutches a map with a cryptic note, promising treasure if the finder reveals the truth about an old murder and returns the remains of the victim to China. Is the note a hoax? Maybe.

The books I picked & why

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Lola Benko: Treasure Hunter

By Beth McMullen,

Book cover of Lola Benko: Treasure Hunter

Why this book?

I loved the young female Indiana Jones character in this book, and it’s a great read for adventure-seeking readers between eight and twelve whether they are boys or girls. The story is fast-paced and intriguing. I got caught up in this one and I’m not a middle-grade-age reader.


The Storm Runner

By J.C. Cervantes,

Book cover of The Storm Runner

Why this book?

This book is filled the Mayan mythology. I found that the magic was fascinating, and I couldn’t get enough of the monsters, gods, and giants. They make for an exciting read—even if you’re not a middle grader.


Aru Shah and the End of Time

By Roshani Chokshi,

Book cover of Aru Shah and the End of Time

Why this book?

I could so relate to Aru Shah, the main character in this book, who makes up stories so she can fit into the crowd at school. I could even relate to the fact that her “fibs” don’t work out very well for her. When she makes a vow never to lie again if only she can get out of her current mess, she opens a much bigger one. So relatable! Suddenly, she’s pitted against a demon, and I had to read until I found out if she succeeded in freeing her friends and her mother.


Maya and the Rising Dark

By Rena Barron,

Book cover of Maya and the Rising Dark

Why this book?

I enjoyed this contemporary fantasy about a young girl caught between worlds who—to her shock—discovers her father is really super-human. It was fun to see how after suddenly being charged with the task of saving the human race, she accepts the challenge. The ticking clock in the story was humorous, but created enough tension to keep me reading.


The Detective's Assistant

By Kate Hannigan,

Book cover of The Detective's Assistant

Why this book?

I love to read historical fiction, and this book is based on a true story about a female detective of the Civil War era. That also caught my interest. I didn’t even know there were female detectives at this time. The story traces eleven-year-old Neil Warne’s adventures of uncovering her true past and solving mysteries. It’s all about daring to do dangerous things, including saving Abraham Lincoln. 


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